Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mountains To Beach - A New Runner Is Born

I do not know what is happening to my running pace but I am not going question.  I've been running consistently but still not like I should be (standard) and I haven't really changed anything with my training plan.  Yet I've gone from a 9:48 per mile average to an 8:39 in two months.  It's like I just woke up one morning and decided I should start running faster.  Whatever it is I'll take it.  I am trying not to get too excited or ahead of myself.  It could be a fluke.  Even though every few minutes I am thinking, "oh my god, I love running, I am so excited to finally be getting faster, will this continue?, how far can I go?, BQ? Will it be Kara Goucher or Lauren Fleshman who is going to call  and ask me to be her training partner? how much money will I make in sponsorships?"

Okay maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but it is amazing what a little success can do for your motivation and confidence.  I always knew I had a faster runner in me and I am glad to see it wasn't just wishful thinking.  If I figure out what magical formula finally brought this to life, I'll let you know.

In case you haven't guessed, Mountains to Beach (MTB) half marathon went pretty well:)  I PR'ed with a 1:53:19 (8:39average and over a 4 min PR).  Everybody seemed to PR this weekend - MFR, my friend Kevin who I ran most the race with, Sarah & Margot (who I met at the finish line),  etc... MTB was the Oprah of PR's - "you get a PR, you get PR...EVERYBODY gets a PR!!!!"

The whole weekend felt like a life PR.  It consisted of hanging out by the ocean, paddle boarding, good friends, eating, drinking, eating some more, drinking some more and lots of activities including hiking in Malibu canyon and an open water ocean swim.  Pretty much the perfect weekend which was topped off with that whole PR thing and getting upgraded to first class on the way home.  That upgrade (aka free wine and peanut M&M's) came in handy when we had to circle SFO for an extra 30min because of weather.  You can circle for hours if you provide me with red wine & chocolate; actually it had to be peanut M&M's.  Regular M&M's and I would have had some choice words.

One of multiple beach walks and stalking Courtney Cox's house.  Turns out she did not want to invite me in for drinks.
View from our hike post race in Malibu Canyon.

Pre-race paddle boarding!
I seriously ate sh** right after this photo was taken.

The race itself was once again one of my favorites.  It was very small (I think limited to 1200 marathoners & 1200 halfers) and had a great local feel to it.  Gorgeous course on a nice scenic bike path with a perfect steady decline = race heaven.  Packet pickup was at the local high school:

I love small races.
Upon picking up our packets we were told that we had to be on a shuttle at 4am to get taken up to the start line.  Ummm....no thank you!  Luckily we had a backup and Kevin's nephew agreed to wake up at the crack o'dawn to drop us off.  The course started up in the hills towards Ojai and finished right next to the beach in Ventura.  When I woke up at 3:45am on Sunday morning I was not pleased with the 6am start time but when I finished at 8am and it was already blistering hot, I was very thankful. 

Race Start
It was a frozen tundra at the start line and the people who had been sitting up in the mountains for 2 hours (because of their 4am shuttle) did not look too happy.  Luckily I brought a space blanket and just tried to keep moving until it was go time.

There were no complicated corrals or even the national anthem.  They shot off a pellet gun and we were off right at 6am.  Of course I forgot to turn on my Garmin until 30 seconds before the race start.  When it came on and said low battery, I almost lost it.  It had been charging for like 24 hours, WTF?  I quickly got out my phone and started my Strava App so I could capture my data even though I wouldn't be able to see it during the race.

For the first mile or two my hands and arms were completely numb.  I just kept shaking them out and hoping to get some blood pumping.  Although I was running side by side with Kevin, we both had music on so we weren't chatting, just trying to match our strides.  I used the steady decline to my advantage.  I felt great but had no idea how fast we were running and I started to worry I wouldn't be able to keep it up.

Mile 1 - 8:47
Mile 2 - 8:13
Mile 3 - 8:15
Mile 4 - 8:17
Mile 5 - 8:07

After mile 5 or so, Kevin started telling me our splits every mile.  It was when he said, "we're on pace for a 1:48 overall" that I realized just how fast I was going and the panic set in.  I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up that pace but w/o my Garmin I couldn't gauge how much I should be slowing down.  I had a Gu at 6.5 and played the mental game of am I going to fast or am I okay until mile 7 when we reached the ocean.  That's when it really set in and I started to feel the fatigue. I tried to keep up the pace but the flat felt like an incline.

Mile 6 - 8:09
Mile 7 - 8:37 
(stopped for some water & Gu)
Mile 8 - 8:13
Mile 9 - 8:34

Right around 10 was when I couldn't keep up anymore and I told Kevin to go ahead and I'd see him at the finish.  This was also the start of an out-and-back on a neighborhood street that was definitely the worst part of the race.  There was slight incline on the way out, it was getting really warm and there was no mile marker for 11 (mentally f'ed me over since I didn't have my Garmin).  I saw MFR on his way back and after that it seemed like the turnaround took forever to come into sight.  I stopped somewhere around 11 and drank some water and took another half of a Gu.  That gave me the final push I needed.  Once I finally saw the Mile 12 marker, I gave myself the mental pep talk of, "don't go too hard, just finish strong."  The ocean came back into view and I just concentrated on the finish line.  Once I crossed, and fumbled with getting my phone out, I saw 1:54 on my Strava and was so excited. I knew I had close to a 4 min PR.

Mile 10 - 8:36
Mile 11 - 8:50
Mile 12 - 9:05
Mile 13 - 8:59
PR's and squinty eyes for everyone!

Afterward I met fellow Nuun'ers Sarah & Margot and HTC Nuun teammate Robyn.  Turns out, Robyn and I both grew up in Eugene know a bunch of the same people - got to love small towns.  Great finally meeting everyone in person that I've only known through cyber-stalking the internet.  My ride was leaving town so I unfortunately missed the Nuun get together at the local brewery (duh) but this weekend just got me even more excited for August and to hopefully keep up this new love of running faster.  I have Olympic Vineman coming up this weekend and then nothing until Cascade Lakes in August.  I am going to need some motivation over the next two months if I want to bring this new found speed to Hood To Coast.

I would recommend this race to everyone especially if you're looking to PR or BQ and love sun, sand and an awesome downhill course.  SoCal - you done good!  Also if anyone happens to own a house on Malibu beach and is looking for a buddy to drink wine and IPA's with on their balcony and bask in their new 8:39 average pace, just let me know. Ms. Cox I am talking to you!

Love the medal - already donated the shirt:)


  1. Congratulations on the new PR!! What a great improvement! I had a big jump in speed this spring too -- and it is so exciting! :) Glad to hear you had a great race.

  2. So Exciting!!! I think it is a mental thing! You have been working on your mental toughness and you didn't even know it!!

    Can't wait to see what you do with a marathon!! That's if you could pick one?!!! :)